The change over to super-regionals/state competitions feels inevitable, but I feel like an extended discussion of this would be very good after this competition season wraps up.
For now, I’ll touch on some of my ideas.
Since CMP slots are in such high demand, they should be distributed more evenly geographically. There are around 360 spots every year for what is now over 2300 teams. Only the 14% of teams not already in because of long-term pre-eligibility (HoF, Originals, Major Winners from prior year) get a spot. That means unless your team has merit or luck, students will graduate without going to CMP now (you’re reading something from one of those who is at-risk for the moment).
I don’t think the field orientations and the sheer number of required pits will provide for the addition of another division, at least through next year. St. Louis maps looked pretty packed to me (but I wasn’t there).
I’ve had trouble determining exactly who controls the MAR/FiM event structure, the traditional structure, and CMP. For the sake of my plan, I’m saying that regional boards run not-CMP as authorized by FRC, while FRC conducts CMP.
For CMP, FIRST gets to take a bite out of the pool of slots before the regional boards: legacy teams, hall of fame teams, and last year’s major winners are all going through these FIRST HQ owned slots. FIRST, in this scenario, would not leave at-large CMP bids out on TIMS all willy-nilly for one with fast data speeds.fingers to grab. That’s important, and necessary.
Then FIRST HQ would distribute the slots to these remaining 326 (and shrinking because of HoF) regional boards to use at their discretion, with a few exceptions (i.e. the six traditional blue banner awards given at competition must be in your slots, unless FRC demotes RAS and eliminates RIA). It’s like good, old-fashioned apportionment in governing bodies. So MAR, who has 100 teams this year (right?) would have 8 spots to work with however they wished after the 6 Blue Banner awards got their bids. They could give them to the next 8 teams in the rankings. They could send more RCAs or EIs or RASs. They could let teams register for the slots like we do now, or they could institute some sort of lottery a team is drafted into after their 3rd year away from CMP. Michigan would have 21 slots to distribute after the six BBAs. However, if 51 won MSC or 103 won MAR or 16 won GKC, they wouldn’t be sucking away a spot from their competition and giving it to another random team. It would go to a team that performed very well over the year and earned a spot not needed by a team slightly stronger than them.
The goal of this is to encourage a wide range of talented teams from across the country. I don’t have a real beef with teams that have superior preparation winning competitions they deserve, but if you already earned a spot at CMP, we should be giving the one you don’t need to a team that fell a little short of winning the competition on the field, not the competition of registering in TIMS.
When we move over to this oncoming system, it will likely never be a 100% thing. I can see California keeping LAR and New York City keeping their events because international teams would get solid rates from flying into those cities. Those areas are also full of great nearby teams that could enter their robot in if they wanted to. Israel and Hawaii aren’t moving over to districts either. Yet the change to district system is necessary, inevitable, and important. Just think, we would be composed of 20 or so massive gatherings of strong teams.
Also, realize that this inability to cross regional lines to take spots from teams in that region are mostly gone, with the exception of a few traditional events. Even the Mid Eastern Atlantic Conference gets as many guaranteed bids into the NCAA tournament as the Big East. I know that region x and y are far superior to region z an it’s harder to get in if you’re in those regions, but hey: build a better team so you can build a better robot and improve your area, or increase the number of teams in your area and benefit your region by adding slots and spreading FIRST.
These are very, very rough ideas, and I actually have been working on developing my thoughts on this to discuss after the season is over with and my mind has calmed just a bit.